Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on March 24, 2022.
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A few months ago we published a post entitled “7 Things to Do in the Yucatan Region of Mexico Not at an All-Inclusive.“ This post was to try and clear up the misconception that the Yucatan is all party resorts where people go to eat, drink, and swim in a nice pool.
Although I'm thoroughly convinced that there are tons of amazing things to do in the Yucatan that does not require being at a Cancun all inclusive (we spent three weeks there without running out of things to do outside of the resorts), our time also enjoying all-inclusives during our visit opened our eyes up to a completely different world.
What can you do in the Yucatan while staying at an all-inclusive? The following were seven of our favorites that may help you when planning where to stay in Cancun!
1) Relax Whenever You Want
When we travel, relaxation is never really on our mind. We can do that at home if we really want to, so we often go a bit overboard when planning our daily activities while on vacation. For those who want to stay at an all-inclusive, however, you are often visiting purely so you can unwind- a 180 degree shift from what we normally do and write about here.
Although we're active travelers, after experiencing all-inclusives myself I have to admit that whether your vacation goal means drinking as much as you want (see below), swimming in monstrously large or ornate pools, visiting the spa every day, or just sitting by the beach reading a book, an all-inclusive is a good way to go.
If you're heading to Mexico to check out their famous beaches (and they are world-class if you get outside of the hotel zone), spending some time at an all-inclusive to enjoy it all is not a bad way to do it in the slightest and I can attest to that from personal experience.
2) Still Eat Mexican Food
The nice thing about all-inclusives in the Yucatan is that if you choose the right one, you can still eat as much authentic Mexican food as you want. It may not be a local restaurant where they hand make the tortillas right in front of you or from the tortilla store down the street, but most all-inclusives offering Mexican food are guaranteed to have enough entrees that will give you a sufficient glimpse into Mexican cuisine.
During our all-inclusive visits this meant eating chilaquiles every morning for breakfast, tacos whenever we wished, and during one celebration on Mexican Independence Day, Dream's Riviera Maya had the largest all-Mexican buffet I've ever seen which had, quite possibly, every entree from the entire country. It sounds like I may be exaggerating, and it is possible, but that is the only good way to describe it as the spread was beyond compare.
Okay, you may not get that buffet unless you stay at an all-inclusive during a special event like we did, but you will likely not go wanting for good Mexican food even if you stay on resort property during your entire visit.
3) Drink Tequila All Day
Ah, my favorite perk of a Mexican all-inclusive- unlimited tequila. It is no secret that most all-inclusives that have alcohol packages lump the premium versions of local alcohols in the base price, and in Mexico this means top-shelf tequila.
If you are fond of this spirit as much as we are, you better plan on conducting significant research into the various tequila brands and aging classifications (silver, reposado, and anejo) during your stay. It was because of this opportunity, and a few at in-town liquor stores, that we found several of our favorite tequila brands (1800, Milagro, and Don Julio to name a few), and realized that the reposado is our preferred aging type for cocktails and there are a few very select anejos that we enjoy for drinking straight even though the flavor is completely different due to the aging process.
For those who drink, this should be on your list even if you have sworn off tequila because of “that one time” back in college. Mexican tequila, especially the aged ones from top distillers, taste nothing like the filth that got you sick in the first place- and you owe it to yourself to try them.
4) Drink Everything Else
This one has nothing to do with Mexico, but I'm including it anyway. If you're staying at an all-inclusive with an open bar package in the base price, you better abuse it. Between that and the liquor dispenser I had in my room at Moon Palace, I really don't have any idea (or memory) of the number of drinks and shots I had during my stays at the all-inclusives. When it is that easy to drink, and you're on vacation and have no responsibility, why not? Just be sure not to abuse it too much as being drunk in the hot Mexican sun never ends well. Never.
Thankfully, we were too busy to make that mistake.
5) Day Trip to the Ruins and Attractions
The Yucatan has an incredible perk for all visitors in that it is small. In just 2-3 hours you can cross the entire peninsula, making nearly every ruin and attraction within reach for a day trip that doesn't break the bank.
From visiting Chichen Itza to the less popular but much more interesting Uxmal, snorkeling with whale sharks off of Cancun to exploring the underground cave of Rio Secreto, and so many others, Mexico has a lot of opportunities for sight seeing that are still somewhat accessible to those staying at a resort. That is, if you can pull yourself away from the pool and bar, which many who make it south of the border have a hard time doing.
6) Enjoy a Stunning Beach
I never thought that the Yucatan in Mexico would be home to amazing beaches, and I suppose this thought was because I let the fear of all-inclusives get the better of me. The truth is that many of the beaches in the Yucatan are stunning, especially if you get out of the Hotel Zone of Cancun (which does not have good beaches), and many would rival many of the top beaches we've been to around the world.
Naturally, the sprawling all-inclusives have snatched up land on the best beaches, so those who want to be footsteps from the water will find a great combination in these resorts that those going on their own in a budget hotel will not get without a short bus or taxi ride. If the proximity to a gorgeous beach is on your must experience list, a properly chosen all-inclusive in Mexico will not let you down.
7) Not Having to Plan a Thing
When your hardest (and often only) choice in planning a vacation is picking a property to stay at, one of the perks of staying at an all-inclusive is that your planning is inherently limited. You fly in, get to the hotel, and only have to decide between ocean and pool, what to drink, and which on-property restaurant to eat at.
Compare that to our daily challenge of figuring out which local bus to take, what attractions to check out, going on a seemingly never ending task of finding an open restaurant, and so many others, I often wish I could throw my hands up in the air and head to the bar. I do that frequently too, of course, but at the end of that visit I also have to pay the bill, which is covered ahead of time when you go to an all-inclusive. If you want to take a trip and throw the stress of traveling out of the window, an all-inclusive has your name on it.
In the seven years that we've been traveling both full-time and part-time, staying in an all-inclusive was never really on our radar. But after slowly getting brought into the vacation scene during our travels in Mexico, we can safely say that we now understand why they're so popular. We may not be visiting them all too often in our future travels, but I can guarantee you that one of our upcoming vacations in the near future will be to one of these style of properties. So if you are visiting a Cancun all inclusive for the week, you won't hear any complaints from me.
Are you considering heading to Mexico and traveling around the Yucatan on your own? Check out our post on the top seven things to do in the Yucatan that aren't at an all-inclusive!
Disclaimer: Our stay at the all-inclusives in Mexico were covered as part of a conference that I was speaking at. As always, all opinions are our own.
About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.